Many years ago in a rollicking past life rooted in the New York and L.A. media, I was offered a choice gig on commercial radio to host a talk show, ostensibly to be a reasoned liberal voice to counterbalance then upstart Rush Limbaugh broadcasting out of Sacramento.
After giving it a try for a weekend, I declined. I just couldn’t stand fielding the phone calls from the mostly rabid right and shockingly ill-informed audience. NPR it was not. The prospects of doing it three hours a day five days a week was off putting; it would not be fun or illuminating.

That frankly is the way I feel now about the drift of local and social media, and to answer friends and followers why I am not contributing as often as I have in the past. In light of the current worldwide crisis, I just can’t abide the facile comments of faux and failed journalists, self serving hustlers and, worse, the mindless defending a corrupt, narcissistic president.

Confined as a high risk individual due to my age and medical history, I spend my time instead walking the dogs, landscaping, and reading more, just not the local blather. I am instead relying for news on my alma mater the NY Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and UCLA Health.

Though I wish all well, and sincerely hope when we get past this pandemic, serious thought be given to how all levels of government can be reformed to better serve the people rather than special interests, that our democracy prevails.



For those of us who have longed loved Malibu, the local government remains a major disappointment, our under achieving neophyte neighbors being manipulated by an unapologetic city missmanager, and a bloated bureaucracy and consultancies.

We have become know by those with any real governmental experience as “chump city.” The only thing that makes me more disappointed is our loutish leadership in Washington DC. But I hope that will change, and I like to think I did my part today.

It was hard choice, indeed the hardest since I cast an (underage) vote for Henry Wallace the progressive presidential candidate in ’48 rather than Harry Truman, (and later apologized to him for that when walking with him in NYC on assignment from the NYTimes . He was staying at the Waldorf visiting his daughter who not incidentally was married to Clifton Daniels of the Times.)

Didnt want to make the same mistake with Bernie, who was saying alot that I am thinking (as was the woeful Elizabeth) but in a voice that reminded me too much of the obnoxious dogmatic kid that sat behind me in PS 238 Brooklyn. The shrill haranguing gave me a headache. I think it WAS Bernie, but he was still a few grades behind me.

Lots of talk, but I think Joe will get the job done, number one being putting Donny (as he was known to us and other later in Jamaica Estates, Queens) out of office and penniless into jail. You got my reluctant vote Biden, and the ball, Don’t fuckin’ fumble it!! Can’t wait to cast my ballot in November, for a new administration nationally and locally!


With the impeachment thankfully picking up broad public support, there has been a noticeable increase in questionable letters-to-the editors denigrating the media reports on Trump’s disastrous deficiencies, while the outraged constituents slavishly cite his hyped successes as president and as a New York developer

In such a recent letter in the malleable Malibu Times, a writer stated there was no testimony to the contrary from anyone who had worked for his family business that Trump rose to the top of the toughest real estate market in the world on his financial acumen and moral worth.

While not wanting to disclose something that is a personal family embarrassment, I felt compelled to respond that I hate to pop the writer’s hot air balloon, but he had been sadly misinformed as to Trump’s rep in NY.

My father in the last mid century was Fred Trump’s contracted interior decorator, for whom I dutifully toiled for free on Saturdays delivering furniture and draperies. Not incidentally during the week I worked as a reporter for the NYTimes, the hands on experience serving me well years later when I was the design critic for the L.A Times.

We lived near the Trumps in Jamaica Estates, Queens, and Fred used to visit our store and workshop, where I remember him giving out cheap cigars when I think Donny was born, or was it when they sent him off to military school. ( reform school for the rich) .

The Trumps were your typical cut-the-corners, slow-to-pay petty nickel-and-dime NY builders. Cheap. You gave him his due, and he, ours, after the usual threats and bargaining.

As for young Donny, he grew up in his Dad’s shadow, when I knew and didn’t like him. Ignominiously at a military school, then as a diddling developer, he was a privileged prick, in New York parlance, a schmuck.

Trump was sued for seemingly everything, including rental discrimination against minorities. He was in sum a bad joke in the local media, and an anathema in the building trades where I was later involved.

But that he was a hustler and whoremaster back then there was no argument. You didn’t turn your back on Donny, drink his Kool Aid, or give him any benefit of a doubt. And we as a nation should not now.


Whether it is just the warm and welcoming seasonal weather  coming this year after a hard Winter of wildfires and floods, or whether it is just the coincidental whims of select cultural venues. Whatever it might be, the joys of dance are happily being celebrated this Spring across Southern California.

At the relatively accessible Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills last weekend, on stage in a rare performance was Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company. (BTW, the company was labeled that when it broke away from the originally state sponsored theater, malpaso in English meaning misstep.

But the company has persevered to become renown , blending as it does a variety of modern dance styles, featured was a program of the favored old and challenging new. 

Yes, old but for me ever new 30 years since it exploded on  a New York  stage was the Cuban rendition of Merce Cunningham’s Fielding Sixes, adapted here for eight agile dancers.  Also on the program were three more recent pieces, and though interesting, just did not excite as did the Cunningham restaging.

Perhaps  it was nostalgia, in anticipation also of this weekend’s offering at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Music Center downtown L.A.  Wednesday thru Sunday by the venerable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

For sixty years the much honored dance company has been mesmerizing audiences with fresh interpretations of modern dance techniques.  And I am pleased to note that the nightly differing programs all will feature the acclaimed masterpiece Revelations, a personal favorite.

For those who are really turned on by dance, for an admission price of $75  there will be what promises to be an unforgettable party  after Friday’s performance, to meet and mingle with some of the Alvin Alley performers. Light fare will be served on the fifth floor. where, who knows, you just might be tempted to try out some of your moves.

In the same spirit, but free, at the Wallis’s outdoor Promenade Terrace, being offered every second Sunday afternoon of the month, beginning next Sunday, the 14th, will be an interactive studio conducted by the dancer Debbie Allen and Friends.  Yes,that’s free.  Thank you Wallis

Each studio will feature a different dance step, beginning with Flamenco in April, Voguing in May and Salsa in June.  By the way, Voguing is a stylized dance originating from the black and Latino LGBT community of New York City. All ages and levels are invited. Just make sure you’re wearing the right shoes.

Also upcoming this Spring. is the Los Angeles Dance Festival, at the  Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State east L.A. campus., next weekend, April 12 thru 14. That is for the main stage performances of a variety of dancers and companies. Checkout the program on the website,

 For what promises to be a little more edgy are the offerings April 26th to 28th at the festival’s Fringe, at the Diavolo Studio Black Box, in the downtown’s Arts District, 616 Moulton Avenue. If you love dance, you have to love these diverse venues, however a challenge it might be getting to them.


Like the residue of toxic ash from the Woolsey fire that is embedded in the soil of my Malibu, there are many aspects of that disaster that should haunt the singular seacoast village for the foreseeable future.

And if you witnessed the fire that destroyed some 800 homes, a fifth of the city and canyons beyond, it is certain that the thousands of persons directly affected will never forget, nor forgive, the failures of local government in the heat of the disaster, and their feigned excuses after.

Exactly what went wrong hopefully will be revealed in the promised  post disaster reviews: the lack of preparedness,, the faulty mandatory evacuation , foundering communications, the haphazard dispatch of fire fighting crews and apparatus, and the deficient support for those who stayed to save their homes and that of neighbors.

So many persons failed us, prime among them City Manager Reva Feldman and then mayor Rick Mullen. And though they may never have the courage to admit it, if there is any karma the failures should shadow them for the rest of their questionable careers.

But from my philosophical perspective,  a catbird seat on the point of  Pt. Dume, and as I write in The Local and select websites, the flagrant failures of government during and after the fire residents in Malibu are citing I feel reflect concerns on a far larger stage.

Indeed, they have political implications in communities almost everywhere, and are indicative here, regionally and nationally, of a breach of Jeffersonian democracy’s hallowed social contract between our public institutions and ordinary citizens, between those who govern, them, and the governed, us. It is serious, and troublesome.

The concern over the breach was raised coincidentally a few weeks ago by Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells in a select salon in Los Angeles hosted by the upstart Berggruen Institute and reported in its weekly World Post published in partnership with the Washington Post. 

Discussing his new book “Rupture: The Crisis of Liberal Democracy.” Castells is reported arguing that we are witnessing today across the West is not some normal turn of political cycles but a distinct fading of democracy and a historic rupture of institutional relationships. 

And he sees no new interconnection  that might supplant the old ways of representation, only fragments of the former mainstream parties and upstart populists vying for power through “ the exhausted mechanism of electoral contests in which ever fewer believe.”

“Where are the new institutions worthy of our trust?” declared the famous scholar of the networked society, as reported in The World Post. Instead, the article adds, he sees citizens acting autonomously through the use of new technologies, such as you are no doubt plugged into.

“They’re making use of the capacity for self-communication, deliberation and co-decision-making that is now at our disposal thanks to the ‘Internet Galaxy,’ and putting the enormous wealth of information and knowledge into practices to help manage our problems.”  He hopes, as I do in a poorly governed Malibu, despite what local apologists say.

Castells doubts that we will ever get to the possibility of consensus because the institutional link between the governing and governed is terminally severed, and that “Only the vast emotional transmission grid of social networks remains as the relevant public space.” 

And as we see in our bubble of Malibu, its print and broadcast media are fading, while sadly deferring to the status quo local government and the powers-that-be. Meanwhile, thankfully, we have the however compromised and indulgent social media; what you are reading now. And for that, I thank you.


There is nothing like visiting other cities to put in perspective the heralded renaissance of Downtown Los Angeles, especially if those cities are New York and Shanghai.

To be sure, the new residential developments and the sprinkling of architectural attractions such as the cathedral and concert hall augur well for a Downtown that for decades has been an afterthought in burgeoning Southern California

But going back to my native New York City as I do several times a year to visit family and former haunts makes me realize how much more L.A. must do to become engagingly urbane.

That includes at the least shaping a diverting street life here to prompt me to window shop while walking from a dinner to a concert or a play. Walking. Now there’s a thought as parking considerations still wag the Downtown development dog. More hi-rises and density would help.

Not that I think L.A. should mimic New York City. Each has its own distinctive context, culture and communities to celebrate. No doubt we will never have Manhattan’s attitude and ambiance so evident on its thriving street life while that singular island will never have our moderate climate and mountains-by-the sea setting that flavors our envied lifestyle.

But lending me a refreshing, if not exhausting, new perspective on both L.A. and New York was a visit over the recent winter holidays to the emerging new China, in particular Shanghai. The bustling city on the east coast of the booming Asian nation in comparison makes Manhattan feel like its neighboring borough of Queens, and downtown L.A. like Santa Monica.

Actually, Queens where I spent several years in adolescent purgatory and Santa Monica where I persevered as a petulant resident in my middle years were not unpleasant. Just that despite some consumerist conceits, these diverse comfortable communities were similarly suburban, segregated, self-satisfied and, yes, sleepy.

Shanghai definitely is not. With an estimated 20 million residents, including a “floating” population of 3 million, the city seems in a perpetual state of becoming. To a tourist who fancies himself a “flaneur,” as I do, the city exudes a singular spirit that makes experiencing its streets, shop, eateries, and sights exciting.

Talk about densities. Walking along sidewalks is a contact sport that sweeps you along. As for design and development, it is everywhere, as an estimated 400 high rises in various states of construction accent the city’s studded skyline. (In comparison 46 are the planning pipeline for Downtown L.A.)

And while L.A. keeps holding talk fests calling for the revitalization of the LA River, Shanghai in just a dozen years has transformed what had been a mostly rice paddies east of its Huanpu River downtown into a sparkling collection of residential and office developments, plazas and parks. Known as Pudong, it is now the site of the world’s tallest hotel, Asia’s largest shopping center and the city’s new financial district, all lit up and open for business.

The resulting Capitalist-driven commercial clutter blessed by the city and the nation’s Communist rulers resemble if anything Gotham City of the Batman films, what with its spires and skyscrapers. But it is not oppressive, rather more like a high-rise backdrop to the city’s flavorful low-rise neighborhoods of streets and alleys edged by dated shops and housing.

The low-rise city hints of the China I remember of 20 years ago when hordes in brown and gray padded Mao jackets swarmed through the streets on bicycles or heads down trudging every which way.  China then was still in the depressing doldrums of a recalcitrant Communism, borne of in the aftermath of a devastating occupation by the Japanese, a civil war, and an oppressive cultural revolution.

Dormant but apparently not dead was the open for- business, open for- anything, Shanghai a branch of my family experienced in the early 30s after stumbling out of Soviet Russia, along with tens of thousands of other expats.

(My uncle had gone east while his older brother, my father, had scampered west, to settle in Paris, then New York, and me eventually in L.A. The family’s choices of cities, I feel, always have been exemplary.)

The bicyclists are still there, as are the hundreds of thousands of workers from rural China pouring into the city, attracted by an annual escalating income five times the national average, due in part to the construction boom.

While the housing market has cooled recently, long-term prospects remain bullish, given the inherent demand generated by China’s population of 1.3 billion. That’s a lot of people to be housed, feed, clothed and entertained, and where else better to do that but in Shanghai.

The city also is luring the nation’s educated youth, which can be seen on the streets sporting the latest western fads and fashions. And it seems they have forsaken the bicycle for cars, which in turn has resulted in L.A.-like traffic jams. This adds to the pollution that no doubt will haunt China in its continued expansion, as will a host of other environmental problems.

Regardless of echoes of concern by academics and others for the environment and the economy, development moves forward, helped rather than hampered by a bureaucracy whose marching orders are clearly practical and focused. No community outreach here or any protracted plan reviews.

“Construction is aimed first and foremost at economic development. Everything else comes second,” the director of Shanghai planning, Jiang Wu, is quoted as saying.Still, architecture and historic preservation are a consideration, if only in the opinion of developers and designers so as to better distinguish select projects and make them more marketable. One can appreciate their candor.

Meanwhile, Shanghai lurches forward, welcoming new development, new residents and visitors, as any city must do if it is to thrive. To be sure, there are lessons in Shanghai for L.A,


Appeared in now extinct LA Magazine, picked up Downtown L.A. News, various websites etc.  DATED, but still good perspective.




In the spirit of this week’s July Fourth celebrations, and its abiding traditions, I feel compelled to inveigh against the neo fascist policies of our embarrassment of a President.

As I comment on public radio 99.1 KBU and select websites everywhere, I feel the abuses by the Trump misadministration go beyond politics, to the soul of our democratic tenets.

Indeed, we’re not talking politics, as several websites have asked me to shy away from. We’re talking about pride in America, about survival of a way a of life,

Independence Day used to be a joyous time to remember and celebrate the birth of democracy, a time for hometown parades, fireworks, family and friends’ picnics.

Not this year, with a megalomaniacal, mendacious Trump in the White House, seemingly hell bent to destroy with a disturbing glee our democratic traditions, our national sense of decency, our international reputation of a land of the free, home of the brave, and a welcomed source of hope for all.

Now everyday there seems to be a new effrontery by Trump, his soulless entourage, the craven Republicans leadership, his greedy corporate base, and stupefying, supporters, including a few of my neighbors in Malibu, judging from comments received for some past commentaries taking Trump to task.

As I have stated before, it is beyond comprehension that anyone who says they love our ecologically sensitive seacoast village of Malibu, can support the science denying, imbecilic Trump appointees gutting our frail environment safeguards, and undermining our public education system.

Beyond them there are the supporters of his cruel immigration policies, his disparaging of our justice system, his twisted tax policies he strong armed through congress that unquestionably aggravate the nation’s already worrisome income disparities:

The rich are getting obscenely richer, and the poor are getting sadly , depressingly poorer. And heaven help the Social Security System and Medicare.

But we’re better than this neo fascist agenda. We are better than him. In the jargon of his and my New York, Trump is truly a schmuck, and a loser, and god willing won’t last long. After all, he’s only been in office two years, though I know it feels like 20. And this Democracy has been around for 242 years.

Terrifying at times as it is, we must hold on, take heart any resistance, and look forward to the Congressional election this fall, and the national election in 2020, that is if Trump is not impeached, as he should be but probably wont.

We have to believe that this nightmare will end. Meanwhile, I hope your July fourth was free of thoughts of Trump, and happy.






For me these the last few weeks it has been arts and entertainment in Mexico, in particular its rich archeology, displayed in museums and historic sites.

Foremost was Teotihuacan, the largest city in the Americas nearly two thousand years ago, and today still very impressive, if not exhausting under a hot sun.

I had been turned on to this site just outside Mexico City by an enthralling exhibit now on display at the L.A. County Museum of Art, until July 15th. It is a must go.

I also spent a week in the Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, justly known for its culinary and craft traditions, its Spanish colonial architecture, and engaging street scenes.

Blessed by benign weather, witnessed in the plazas and pedestrian promenades was a colorful wedding reception, a graduation celebration and a salutation to a saint. And then there was the shopping. All combined to make time to slip by.

But I had to be back in L.A. in time for an opening night performance of a not-to-be missed “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” The Pulitzer-Prize masterpiece by Eugene O’Neill , arguable America’s greatest playwright, will be at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills for just three-weeks, beginning tomorrow through July 1.

It’s a limited engagement of the acclaimed Bristol Old Vic production, coming to the west coast after sold out runs in New York and London. And as I comment on public radio 99.1 KBU, and websites everywhere, score a big one for the Wallis.

Directed by the honored Sir Richard Eyre, its has an all-star cast, headed by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons and recent nominee Lesley Manville. She is known for playing the cold sister in “Phantom Thread;” Irons for many roles, and is one of a few actors to have won an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy.

The play briefly portrays a family whose matriarch is addicted on morphine since the birth of child. Take it from there as the sons attack each other with brutal honesty, while the father wallows in whiskey – all exposed in a long night.

It is harrowing experience, and one I still remember with heartache 50 years ago when I saw it in its initial Broadway run, starring, among others, Florence Eldridge, Jason Robards, and Katherine Ross. The production won a host of awards, and turned me on to live theatre. It has been a joy since.




It being spring, and Malibu is in full bloom, in particular my landscape. You’d therefore think my commentaries concerning civic matters would lighten up, as has been suggested by a few listeners and readers.

To be sure, as I remark on public radio 99.1 KBU and select websites, the public school situation projecting the realignment of facilities and the district divorce look promising; and so is the city’s planned purchase of commercial parcels. Maybe it will save the Bluffs Park from some nasty, irrevocable over development.

Indeed, in my semi retirement, I’d love to kick back, limit my commentaries to the arts and entrainment segments that I now also do for public radio and various websites. I certainly can use the time for my travels, landscaping and book reviewing.

But as a long time resident with an abiding love for the unique environment and liberal lifestyles of Malibu, I cannot ignore the decline of the city, exacerbated by the lack of public oversight, a municipal ombudsman, local investigative reporters, and only scattered concerns.

Meanwhile, there is indeed much to be concerned about: Heading a list is the self aggrandizing City Council, naively yielding its prerogatives to a self serving, bloated city administration.

Talk about the hardening of bureaucratic arteries, and in a city of just 13,000, a municipality that seems to out source nearly everything, except payroll, pension and perks. And what some favored consultants are exactly being paid for remains a mystery, and that after sucking up millions of our tax dollars. There is no accountability at City Hall.

Then there are the challenge of pending issues: the air b n bs; the future of the commercial sinkhole of the civic center, Trancas field, a premium dog park, and the constant pain of PCH. Tough questions, especially for a lazy, neophyte City Hall.

As for the planning, the city appears to more often than not to yield to a cabal of dominant developers and their facilitators, commercial interests, rapacious realtors, or the whim of a wily city manager. Those dolphins awards to our politicians are beginning to smell like rotten fish.

The result I fear has been an insidious anomie in a dwindling democracy, aggravated by Malibu becoming more a tacky tourist town of trophy second homes and weekend party houses and less a unique coastal village of caring residents.

And so immodestly, as a seasoned journalist and a hardened planner, I feel compelled to express my concerns. As I used to be told by a tough NCO when I once was a platoon sergeant a long time ago,“it is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.” The adage echoes.

I’ll add, good luck Malibu.








Ostensibly, this is a review of an evocative illustrated history of a fabled stub of Sunset Boulevard, entitled “Tales from The Strip: A Century in the Fast Lane.”

As I comment on public radio 99.1 KBU and select websites, the book published by Angel City Press chronicles the heydays and the high and low life nights of a roadway just two miles in length, but long in rollicking and revealing stories.

Located in the immodest satellite city of West Hollywood, edging a boastful Beverly Hills, the Strip celebrates a greater Los Angeles. Though warped with age, it perseveres as a stand out stop on the celebrity bus tour.

But also for me, and donnish others, searching the expansively suburban, reluctantly urban, Los Angeles for nothing less than its soul, that unique sense of place with the potential of generating an elusive evanescent quality of a “genius loci.” The Strip offers clues.

After all, “The city is the teacher of man,” stated the venerated philosopher Simonides, in 475 B.C. The hope expressed then, and now, nearly 2,600 years later, is that those select public places could somehow give rise to a civic identity and sense of community, however fleeting, to feed a frail democracy.

The Strip’s shifting scenes once upon a time before television were peopled by a cast of spot lit characters, featuring a parade of big screen celebrities, with an occasional menacing mobster lurking in the shadows, and on the sidewalks, the omnipresent chorus of wannabes and witnesses.

The scene lent Los Angeles a certain world fame, tinged with notoriety, that lingers today in what might be defined as a post modern sense of history. To be sure, no such pronouncement is offered by the book’s creative team head lined by writer Van Gordon Sauter, photographer Robert Landau and graphic designer Frans Evenhuis.

Their superlative collaboration is a loose chronology of people and places, including the more furtive later years, the scruffy counter culture, rambunctious musicians, and shifting sounds and life styles, to the present relatively tame, some would say tacky, commercialization.

Nevertheless, as “Tales” touts, developments are constantly being proposed with appropriate fanfare flogging the Strip. And almost daily it seems a new conspicuous billboard is being unveiled. Change has always been welcomed on the Strip, though not always for the better.

The memories persist, lending the Strip a certain appealing cachet and its purveyors cash. Though tarnished, the Strip, I feel, is still the gem in the tiara that is Sunset Boulevard, lending sparkle to a Hollywood of a certain age.

If tempted to cruise The Strip, I suggest going in a car with the roof open or down, careful not to be too distracted by the billboards, and for a closer look stop, and park. Perhaps go tomorrow, Saturday , where at 4 PM at Book Soup, at 8818 Sunset Blvd. the “Tales” creative trio will be, extolling and signing their book.